The Russian Attack on US-backed Forces in Syria

 In Foreign, Military

Russian mercenaries attacked the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in Syria on February 7, 2018.  The number of Russian casualties is disputed by the Kremlin, but the fact remains that the attack was thought to be a test of how the United States would respond. The approximately 500 Russian contractors and forces loyal to Assad attacked the known base in a Syrian zone that was supposed to be “neutral,” based on an agreement with Russia and the US coalition previously.

The Institute for the Study of War reported:

The Russo-Iranian military coalition supporting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad used a Russian private military company to launch a coordinated attack on U.S. and partner forces in Eastern Syria. Several hundred pro-Assad regime fighters launched a coordinated attack against a base occupied by U.S. and Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – the main U.S. partner in Syria – in Eastern Deir ez-Zour province on February 7. Russian private military company (PMC) Wagner participated in the attack.

According to the Pentagon, Russian -made T-55 and T-72 tanks fired 20 to 30 tank rounds within 500 feet of the SDF base, which held some US troops. The US coalition responded with “AC-130 gunships, F-15s, F-22s, Army Apache helicopter gunships, and Marine Corps artillery.” (They got their butt kicked, in other words. They wanted to know the US response? They got it.)

According to Reuters, Russian casualties were around 100 killed, 200 injured. Russia stated that it was a lie created by Russia’s enemies. They denied any more than 5 Russians were killed and “those were not troops.” Russia has repeatedly denied that they deploy contractors instead of regular Russian troops, but that appears to be an increasing scenario, according to wearethemighty. The Russian contractors were reportedly NOT covered by Russian airstrikes in the operation. The Kremlin kept its distance for ‘plausible deniability’ at the expense of the lives of the contractors. But there is little doubt that they knew ahead of time.

The Pentagon reported that only 1 SDF fighter was wounded in the attack.

The US coalition warned Russia about 20 minutes before the attack, but it was unclear whether that information was transmitted to the contractors on the ground.

SecDef Mattis said that it was “unclear” whether the Kremlin knew about the attack. But it’s unlikely that they didn’t know.

Screenshot via Institute for the Study of War

Featured photo: file photo of HIMARs

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